US and Venezuela Again Call for Better Bilateral Ties

Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Arreaza has said he wants “good relations” with the United States, following a statement from US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this week that Washington is “ready and willing” to improve bilateral ties.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Arreaza has stated he wants “good relations” with the US. (AVN)
Arreaza has stated he wants “good relations” with the US. (AVN)

Mérida, 13th December 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Arreaza has said he wants “good relations” with the United States, following a statement from US Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this week that Washington is “ready and willing” to improve bilateral ties.

“We respect them, and hopefully the US and its government is beginning to respect Venezuela,” Arreaza tweeted this week.

In another tweet, Arreaza stated that following the election of President Barack Obama, “we thought for a moment that his policy would be different”. In a third, he wrote that he wanted “the US to become a power in the world to help countries progress, not impede them”.

During an interview with the Miami Herald and “Oppenheimer Presenta” on CNN en Español earlier this week, Kerry appeared to express recognition of Sunday's municipal elections in Venezuela. The ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and its allies won both the majority of municipalities and the popular vote.

“I think fundamentally, they [the elections]... met standards,” Kerry stated.

“They didn’t produce the kind of change that I think a number of people thought they might,” he said. According to the Miami Herald the secretary of state was “referring to the fact that the opposition failed to win a landslide victory across the country”.

However, the PSUV's ability to win a majority of municipalities was widely predicted in the lead up to the election, and opposition rallies in the capital Caracas prior to voting day failed to draw large crowds.

However, Kerry also stated that “the evidence is that...there are some questions of irregularities” with the elections. Responding to the question of whether the elections were free and fair, Kerry cited Maduro's “decree powers”, “increased negative attention on the media” and “other things” as “concerns”.

For over a decade Venezuela's elections have been certified as free and fair by most international monitors, including from the European Union (EU) and Organisation of American States (OAS). However, following the April presidential elections the Carter Center issued some concerns, including over unequal “financial resources and access to the media” and “use of government resources for electoral advantage”. Nonetheless, the Center acknowledged the April elections were free and fair.

Yet international monitors who spoke with Venezuelanalysis on Sunday only issued praise for the system.

During this week's interview, Kerry stated that he has nonetheless “reached out personally” to the Maduro government.

“We are ready and willing, and we are open to improving that relationship,” he stated.

The possible olive branch echoes similar comments made following a meeting between Kerry and Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua in June.

Jaua described the meeting as “proactive”, and said it marked “the beginning of a good respectful relationship”.

“We agreed today — both of us, Venezuela and the United States — that we would like to see our countries find a new way forward, establish a more constructive and positive relationship and find the ways to do that,” Kerry said after the June meeting, which occurred on the sidelines of the 43rd General Assembly of the OAS.

Just over a month later, President Nicolas Maduro announced he would end talks with Washington, after US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power labelled Venezuela a “repressive” regime following her nomination to her current position by Obama.

“I told Jaua to convey to Kerry [in June] that we are ready to have relations within the framework of equality and respect,” Maduro said when announcing the termination of talks in July.

“If they respect us, we respect them. But the time has run out for them to meddle in the internal affairs of our countries and publicly attack us. Their time has run out, in general in Latin America, and in particular with us,” he said.

Venezuela and the U.S. have not had ambassadors in each other’s countries since 2010. Relations worsened between the two countries after the short lived coup in 2002 against then president Hugo Chavez, which Venezuela accused the U.S. of helping to orchestrate.